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A Letter Regarding IAH Lee Rd. Spotting Area  
User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6210 posts, RR: 11
Posted (13 years 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 5819 times:

I'm working on a letter to send to the City of Houston, just to do my part in an effort to get the spotters area reopened at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (KIAH). However, before I send it off, I'm seeking input. My plan is to send it in 48 hours to the following: Mayor Brown, All City Council Members, Governor Perry, U.S. Congressman for this district, both Texas U.S. Senators, and the Houston Airport System. Okay now, looking for feedback. Both positive and negative. Fire away.

Dear Mayor Brown,

I am writing to request that the City of Houston re-open the aircraft observation park located on Lee Rd. adjacent to George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Since early 2003, this park has been closed to aviation enthusiasts amid security concerns associated with increased hostilities in the Middle East. This closure has placed a serious hamper on the practice of the worldwide hobby known as "Plane Spotting" at IAH / KIAH), USA - Texas">IAH Airport. I personally miss the opportunity afforded by the observation park to sit back and relax after a stressful day and watch planes arrive from all over the world. I frequented this park several times, and usually there would be around 10-15 individuals watching airplanes with me at any given time.

I understand the security concerns presented by this new post 9/11 world we live in, and I share these concerns. But I believe that a lack of understanding of our hobby, as well as a lack of understanding of the threat of a terrorist attack by shoulder fired missile, on the part of the general public as well as elected leaders has fostered an unwarranted fear of the practice of plane spotting, a perfectly legitimate and lawful activity. This fear has resulted in the closure of two airplane spotting areas at IAH / KIAH), USA - Texas">IAH Airport; one located on Lee Rd. and the other located at the end of Rankin Road. We must now drive all the way to Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport to watch planes, where their airport observation park, known as "Founder’s Plaza" (a tribute to the founders of the airport), has remained opened. Now that hostilities in Iraq is coming to a close, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has reduced the terrorist threat level to "Yellow", it is time to allow citizens to once again enjoy freedoms that were afforded to us prior to the increased terrorist threat level "Orange".

While naturally I don’t expect you to put plane spotters’ hobby above national security, I believe you’ll agree that re-opening the park to plane spotters will actually improve the security of the airport perimeter. We will agree to be the "eyes and ears" around the airport, as part of an "Airport Watch" Program. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, along with the Transportation Security Administration, developed a similar Airport Watch program for general aviation airports, patterned after the highly successful Neighborhood Watch programs. While at the park, we will be on the lookout for suspicious activity. Street crooks know they’re more likely to get away with their crimes when they commit them in deserted areas away from people, and right now, the observation park serves as such a deserted area. Similarly, a terrorist will feel more comfortable staging an attack from a deserted airport observation park, while he would likely never attempt an attack from a crowded park of people who are vigilant and able to take immediate action to alert authorities.

Additionally, you should take note that the Dept. of Homeland Security has said that an attack by shoulder-fired missile in the U.S. is very unlikely. However, if this should be attempted, it is widely known that these missiles are capable of striking their targets from up to ten miles away from the airport. This is an area that cannot possibly be restricted or controlled, despite our best efforts. The point here is that a determined terrorist does not need access to the airport observation park or elsewhere along the immediate perimeter of the airport to carry out an attack. Our efforts should be focused on locating and eliminating the people who possess this capability, rather than Band-Aid efforts at restricting aviation enthusiasts from watching airplanes from a park.

Finally, I would like to reiterate my request that the City of Houston re-open the airport observation park located on Lee Rd, at least during daylight hours. Please consider alternatives to an outright ban on the use of this park. As an example, Orlando International Airport issues "Facility Use Permits" to plane spotters to allow them to enjoy spotting upon presenting valid identification. Many European airports are actively encouraging plane spotters to keep an eye out for suspicious activity around the airport. For more information on our hobby, please visit http://www.airliners.net or http://www.planespotting.com/. I also encourage you to visit the Houston Spotters Club at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/iahspottersclub/. And if you want to see some fabulous pictures taken right here in Houston of all kinds of airplanes, visit http://www.airliners.net and perform a search for photos taken at Houston - George Bush Intercontinental (KIAH. I am proud to live in the United States, where we value our freedoms not necessarily afforded everywhere in the world. I hope you will support the restoration of the freedom enjoyed by plane spotters at George Bush Intercontinental Airport by reopening the Lee Rd. airport observation areas..


[Edited 2003-04-19 09:51:21]

Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
7 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6210 posts, RR: 11
Reply 1, posted (13 years 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 5712 times:

The letter is going out in 24 hours. Any suggestions?

Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
User currently offlineArtsyman From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 4748 posts, RR: 32
Reply 2, posted (13 years 2 weeks 6 days ago) and read 5703 times:

While I thought the letter is excellent, if I had to come up with one suggestion, it would be to get to the point about the lack of better security by having the areas closed. At this point it is mentioned later in the letter, but it is worthy of more prominence. Elected officials generally do not care what individuals think, so it is important to give them something to bite into as soon as possible


User currently offlineZoomer From Netherlands, joined Dec 2000, 221 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (13 years 2 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 5684 times:

An excellent letter. Artsyman has a good point too. I would also add that shortning it might help too. Most officials have a very limited attention span! Make sure that the most pertinent facts come first. Still a great letter though.

User currently offlineIwantaBBJ From Switzerland, joined Jun 2002, 782 posts, RR: 4
Reply 4, posted (13 years 2 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 5663 times:
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Many European airports are actively encouraging plane spotters to keep an eye out for suspicious activity around the airport.

Why no mention Manchester as an example here, and their approach to spotters?




User currently offlineThomasphoto60 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 4270 posts, RR: 25
Reply 5, posted (13 years 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 5633 times:

Agreed, this is a very well thought out and articulated letter. Also as suggested by Mike, you might want to link the Manchester story into your letter.


"Show me the Braniffs"
User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6210 posts, RR: 11
Reply 6, posted (13 years 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 5564 times:

Here's one of the responses I recieved from my letter:

Thank you for your email regarding the IAH observation areas. Despite
misinformation that is being circulated, the Houston Airport System
did not close the observation areas arbitrarily. As you know being in the aviation industry, most of what we do is by directives from the federal government. The observation areas were closed as a direct response to security concerns from the office of Homeland Security. Recently a task force made of FBI, Secret Service and TSA officials toured and reviewed the airport perimeter and commented on their concern about opening these areas and were interested in securing other areas adjacent to the airport as well. Because these areas were restricted does not mean that legitimate air plane observers and families can not still see aircraft at IAH. The best locations and one where the experienced world traveling spotters often come are the roofs of parking garages A/B and C. We often find these spotters there complete with chairs and ice coolers. They notify the airport of their activities and we often greet them when they arrive. We just had two groups
of international spotters from the United Kingdom at IAH and Hobby
last month. There are also locations along Greens Road where persons can pull over and watch the planes take-off.

Houston is considered one of the best places to see aircraft in the
world because of the types of aircraft and the availability. Our airports still have a tour system operating so persons can see operations at the airports.

We have requested a more specific directive from the federal
government regarding the observation areas so that we can see how we can address their concerns and still provide an area for the public. We have talked about possibly reopening the locations in connection with a community watch program were persons could call if they see something suspicious. This
is still just an idea dependent on the federal government's security

I appreciate your comments. Hopefully we can work together to get
some of these areas reopened.

Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
User currently offlineClipper471 From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 726 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (13 years 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 5556 times:

"We have talked about possibly reopening the locations in connection with a community watch program were persons could call if they see something suspicious. "

What will probably happen if they post signs to report suspicious activity is passing motorists will call to report the spotters. This would be annoying to both the spotter and the police. The police can do something about it- close it again if there are too many calls.

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